Published May 04, 2005
NEW YORK – The Web is proving to be fertile ground for efforts to try to derail Sen. Hillary Clinton's (search) future political ambitions.
A Web site that will feature documents alleging the New York senator knew about illegal activities surrounding certain campaign contributions was launched Tuesday night.
Clinton's camp claims the efforts are just a small example of how Republicans are going to use the former first lady as a whipping post in 2006 and possibly beyond.
"We know one thing for sure, the Republicans and their right-wing allies are going to be hitting us hard with false charges," Clinton wrote to potential donors, according to The Associated Press, calling herself "the Republicans' number one target in 2006."
The Web site launched Tuesday night, www. Hillcap.org, is a joint effort between former Clinton fund-raiser Peter Paul (search) and the self-confessed conservative group U.S. Justice Foundation, who are calling it the Hillary Clinton Accountability Project (search).
The site is being created by the same technical producers behind the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth Web campaign that helped defeat 2004 Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry.
Meanwhile, longtime GOP operative Arthur Finkelstein (search) on Tuesday launched a "Stop Her Now" effort, warning that Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, are trying to "pull the wool over America's eyes once again."
Finkelstein, who said he hopes to raise $10 million from his effort in which he has partnered with New York Republican Party Chairman Stephen Minarik, has been a top adviser to New York Republican Gov. George Pataki and worked on the campaigns of other Republican lawmakers.
In April, Bill Clinton went after Finkelstein because of the anti-Hillary effort. The former president said there might be "some sort of self-loathing" in Finkelstein, a gay Republican who married his partner in Massachusetts.
Paul Not a Gadfly But a Felon
The Hillary Clinton Accountability Project features information provided by Paul, who is involved in a civil suit against the Clintons and is being represented by the U.S. Justice Foundation. Paul claims that his information clearly shows that Clinton knew of the actions taken by her finance director, David Rosen (search), when he failed to adhere to federal campaign regulations.
Rosen is facing a four-count indictment charging that he "knowingly and willfully caused to be made materially false, fictitious, and fraudulent statements" to the Federal Election Commission (search) regarding more than $1 million in campaign contributions in 2000. Each of the four felony counts carries a possible penalty of five years in prison and $250,000 in fines. His trial was supposed to begin Tuesday but apparently has been rescheduled to begin May 17.
Hillcap.org lays out Paul's case that he spent more than $1.2 million to host a Salute to President Clinton Hollywood gala that featured big names like Cher, Melissa Etheridge and Diana Ross. The event, held Aug. 12, 2000, raised $1 million in "hard money" contributions for Hillary Clinton's Senate campaign.
Hillcap.org claims that by "falsely reporting those costs as $401,419, the Clinton campaign avoided paying at least $800,000 in hard money" during the final weeks before the election. Paul told FOXNews.com on Tuesday that he held the event in exchange for Bill Clinton's support on a business venture. He also charged that Sen. Clinton knew about the reporting discrepancies.
A spokesman for the Justice Department, Bryan Sierra, told The New York Times in February that Sen. Clinton was not a subject of the investigation that led to the indictment and no one else had been accused of any wrongdoing arising from the accusations against Rosen.
Paul, however, does have legal tangles of his own. In March, Paul, co-founder of Stan Lee Media Inc., pleaded guilty to securities fraud. The charges arose from Paul's leading role in a scheme to manipulate the price of Stan Lee Media common stock; prosecutors said the scheme resulted in approximately $25 million in losses. Paul was originally indicted in June 2001, but fled to Brazil, where he was arrested by Brazilian authorities in August 2001 and extradited to the United States in July 2003.
Under the terms of the plea agreement, according to the Justice Department, Paul could face up to 10 years imprisonment, a maximum fine of $5 million and restitution to be determined by the court. This is Paul's second guilty plea. In 1979, he pleaded guilty to cocaine possession and trying to defraud Fidel Castro's government out of millions of dollars. He served 30 months in prison, according to news reports.
"Peter Paul is a man with an impressive record of felony convictions, who is currently in federal custody," Clinton lawyer David Kendall said in a statement forwarded to FOXNews.com. "Most of his civil suit has already been dismissed and the remainder has no merit."
Paul was in custody on the stock manipulation charge when he filed the civil suit against the Clintons but is now out on bail. He said Kendall's comments should offend the court system, which has thus far agreed that his case against the Clintons is legitimate.
"My case has enough merit that for the first time in American history, a senator and a president should defend themselves in court for fraud and extortion," he told FOXNews.com.
"I didn't pay $2 million to get Hillary elected because I'm a gadfly or a lunatic in the right-wing conspiracy, so when they try to paint me with that brush, it's obviously an absurdity," he added.
Although he said he knows Clinton supporters and many in the media may try to portray him as just another Hillary basher with a political agenda, Paul argued that he is the only person who has valid information pointing to criminal wrongdoing by the senator.
"I have the goods, I have the checks, I have the photos, I have the videotapes — they don't lie," Paul said, adding the documents "speak for themselves" and he promised that future revelations would show "an intense disrespect and disregard Hillary has for the rule of law."
Sen. Clinton's campaign office did not return phone calls by press time.
Swift Vets Successes Learned
The Webmasters behind www.Hillcap.org are the same who effectively helped thrust the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (search) into the national spotlight when Kerry, the Democratic senator from Massachusetts, challenged President Bush for the White House in 2004.
Scott Swett and Robert Hahn launched Swiftvets.com at the behest of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth group, which sought to expose what members said were lies and misconceptions told by Kerry regarding his status as a war hero in Vietnam.
Even though the Swift Vets originally thought they could just hold a press conference to get the media to come to them and get their story, they were mistaken. Wondering how come no one wrote about their early endeavors to expose what they considered to be a Kerry cover-up, the group then wrote a book and contracted Swett and Hahn to launch a Web site that featured men who served with Kerry and denounced his various claims about the U.S. military's behavior in Vietnam, among other things. Bolstered by their success, Swett and Hahn formally began New American Media Online Services, LLC (search), earlier this year.
"[We] managed to create sort of a perfect storm ... it ended up discrediting Kerry's claim to be a Vietnam War hero," Hahn told FOXNews.com on Tuesday. "If it's anything that works, people will copy it so ... a strategy is sort of forming around this idea: 'Well, how do you get the media to talk about something [the candidates] try to hide?'"
Hahn, Swett and the Swift Boat Vets learned that once one goes public with such a campaign, attacks will immediately be launched against the credibility of the featured information and those behind it.
"That's one of our goals — that no one can find an error of fact on that site and that everything on there is backed up by fact or court record," Hahn said of the Hillcap.org site.
Although Hillcap.org and Finkelstein's StopHerNow.com are just two sites committed to airing what some consider to be Clinton's dirty laundry, Paul, who is a registered independent, said he should not be lumped together with other such sites.
"It's very clear that I have an authentic and legitimate reason to want to share my personal experiences with Hillary as her biggest contributor — as the man most responsible for winning her Senate seat," Paul said. "I'm in a unique position to speak to the criminality and misconduct of the Clintons in accomplishing their political objectives."